We were late taking off, previous tests before me had overrun. A spate of bad weather the week before had led to test after test being rescheduled. Obviously they were trying to cram in as many as possible.
I didn’t object too much. I can only imagine the turmoil you go through when you have to cancel.
But the late takeoff is causing issues. Mostly sunlight related. Facing west is almost impossible. The late afternoon sun searing your retinas. Not helped by the layer of haze and smog over the city.And of course the active is 26.
LE realises this is going to be an issue. He helps me set up my airwork to minimise the problem. He even starts off his debrief with a comment about it. His opening sentence in front of the CFI and Bob (on speakerphone) is “I just want to say what a fantastic job WMAP did given the late timing of the flight and the sun and weather conditions, combined with the failing light.”
Yep, we were really pushing the limits on the amount of daylight left, our final landing a few minutes after local sunset. As I was lining up and waiting for my final circuit, stuck on the taxiway behind a Porter who had inexplicable decided to push back and just sit there. LE asked me if I was comfortable with the amount of light remaining.
I didn’t hesitate in saying yes, there was no way on this Earth that I was going to have to come back another day to one sodding circuit.
“Perhaps you might be more comfortable with it, if you took your sunglasses off?” he comments. I hope that the low light levels mean that he can’t see that I’ve flushed red at being so stupid. But my sunglasses are an integral part of my flying kit, I feel naked without them.
I complete the required circuit, a shortfield obstacle takeoff followed by a standard landing. As I pull off the runway onto Foxtrot I notice that I can clearly see my strobes flashing in the fading light.
On the apron, someone is waiting to pull out, I show LE where I intend to park up as to be out of their way.
Finally as I enter the flight school the guys behind dispatch congratulate me on my pass (word travels fast!) and jokingly look at their watches before asking “so were you trying to get your night rating at the same time then?!